Sunday, October 23, 2011

Confidence, Cockiness, and Arrogance

Talking running with some friends, the subject of a particularly arrogant runner came up. It has come up that my attitude can at times be elitist and arrogant on this blog as well. In the context of coaching or competing or training or even engineering and academics there is a certain confidence that is needed to complete the work necessary to rise to the next level.

For example, Saturday the 22nd, I ran 20 miles in 1:59:26. It is the first time in training I have ever been a few miles out, in this case about 8 and decided that I wanted to do 20 in under two hours. There is quite a lot of confidence you need to decide to run 12 more miles in 70 minutes after doing 8 miles in 49 minutes.  Unfortunately, the confidence talking about doing 20 miles at 5:58 pace translates to a certain arrogance about my ability to run 20 miles. As millions of people run and will never run 20 miles in under two hours I have trouble relating completely to their point of view. They ask how to improve, and the simple fact is, they don't work hard enough.

I come from a family which encouraged a very hard work ethic. The amount of time that I have put into my education and engineering (and continue to put into engineering at an average of 42 hours per week) have given me experience regarding certain situations that I speak about with a very opinionated view. You can not have square inside corners on an object that will be in tension or compression and must have any sort of fatigue life. That is just the way it is.

It is strange for me as well because I know that I say things on the blog in a way that I am uncomfortable saying them in person. It is hard to be that direct. It is also hard for me to confront others on events that I perceive as opportunities for their improvement. However, as I coach I am getting better at providing suggestions. Another professional way that I am improving is by helping to teach and work with my colleagues in India. I spent close to three hours Friday on the phone and our instant message communicator discussing modeling techniques.

I suppose my view is that sometimes X is the truth. If my presentation of X comes off as ignorant and arrogant then the problem is with my presentation of X. Within the United States I feel there is sometimes a refusal to stand up for our beliefs. If standing up for my beliefs is arrogant, I feel that is a better solution than not standing up for my beliefs. Although, translating words on paper to a real time conversation is typically difficult. So you can expect me to be a shy as ever in public, and as arrogant as ever on the blog. It's strange, I know, but it is easier than shouting from the street corners. Plus, when I decide that I said something crazy on the blog I can go back and edit it. It is kind of cheating, but every other web based news and information service can do the same.

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